In The Flesh

Jun 1, 2005 at 12:00 am
The burn rate on blog collateral has reached ludicrous speeds. Just ask Bloc Party, Annie, M.I.A. — in comment strings and breathless e-mails, anonymous dorks-turned-record execs promote these artists only to hate and kick them to the curb. It’s absurd and offensive, but live music is the equalizer, a brick and mortar challenge that kills snarky avatars dead. And that’s why M.I.A.’s May 20 performance at the Majestic was such a thrill. She fused the best elements of her debut LP Arular into a vibrant, sweaty party that left a sell-out crowd dangerously in love. M.I.A. whooped and disco called on the mic, dropped exuberant raps and played effortlessly off the hiccups and hitches in her beats. She slipped into a girlish sing-song for "Bingo," and matched the sinewy movements of her dancer for the choppy rhythms of "Pull Up the People." "I got the beats to make you bang!" As a co-producer on Arular, Diplo understands the raw accessibility of M.I.A.’s music — her membership in the world culture of cool that allows a puree of hip-hop, dancehall, electro, and universal catchphrase. "Galang galang galang!" Live, his turntable and sequencing work was stripped enough to emphasize that blend, but still fluidly referenced Eurythmics, T.I., Missy, and No Doubt. Reports of M.I.A. live shows as stilted or even boring were overstated, as she worked the crowd into a sexualized froth and hit every dance move in the canon of East Coast hip-hop. Here’s an instant message that’s actually true: "M.I.A.’s bright sensuality was addicting, Diplo’s beats were deafening, and TasteFest should book them both right now."

LCD Soundsystem? Not so much. The headlining New York band’s crafty cross of electronics, post-punk reference, and relentless percussion drove forward with admirable intensity. But the songs kept plateauing at the same chaotic surge point, and after a while it was like an LP lock groove, or the last page of a novel torn out by assholes. Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]